Red Sox utilityman Yairo Munoz could earn a 40-man roster spot
One of the big talking points going into spring training for the Red Sox this winter has been who will ultimately win the backup second base job: Michael Chavis or Christian Arroyo. All the while, non-roster invitee Yairo Munoz has found himself on the outside looking in after being outrighted off the 40-man over the winter. The utility-man has made his presence known to start the spring and should not be forgotten as an asset to a team that praises versatility.
There had been some indication earlier in the offseason in the form of an Alex Cora NESN appearance that Boston planned to stick with a three-man bench in favor of carrying more pitchers. With two spots already reserved for recently signed outfielder Marwin Gonzalez and backup catcher Kevin Plawecki, that leaves just one opening on the bench. The sole spot on the bench has been speculated to be a tug-of-war between Arroyo and Chavis.
Could there be a dark horse candidate emerging in the form of Munoz?
The theoretical two-horse race between Chavis and Arroyo has not exactly come off as all too competitive to this point. Chavis has played three games and collected two hits over seven at-bats while playing first base and second base. The latter has only appeared in two games at second base and shortstop and hitless over four at-bats.
Evaluating the forecast of a player’s spring training based on less than ten at-bats is ludicrous, but the notion that Munoz could be considered in the running for the back-up spot would not come as a surprise. The 26-year-old has five hits in nine at-bats with a home run over four games.
One important piece of information worth noting is that Munoz has not seen much playing time over the course of his three-year career. Over 208 career games, he has played 30 games at second base.
In the event that his stock continues to rise offensively, he could very well see time at the position over the course of the spring to make the competition more interesting. He has been spent his time between third base and left field to this point in the spring and was used exclusively in the outfield during his 2020 season.
All things considered, the addition of Munoz to the 40-man roster, let alone the 26-man roster, would spell another player currently on the 40-man losing a spot in favor of the utility-man to return to the majors at the conclusion of spring training.
Should the team ultimately move forward with this decision and Munoz deem himself worthy of making the team, Arroyo would be at most risk of losing his job given the fact that Chavis is already a member of the 40-man roster.
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The 26-year-old Munoz was overall productive during his 12-game tenure with the Red Sox in 2020, batting .333 over 45 plate appearances. His being outrighted this past winter came as a bit of a surprise, and the fact that he made it through waivers unclaimed was even more of a shock. He offers plenty of support both in the field but his offense is what got Red Sox Nation’s attention last season.
Should he get an extended look this spring, as appears to be the case right now, he could very well prove to be worthy of being added back to the roster for the upcoming 2021 season. Especially if his bat stays hot.
If his defense at second base can match that of Chavis or Arroyo, an argument can surely be made for a closer evaluation. Even if he is seen as a better fit at third base or left field, Boston’s current projected roster has other options capable of manning second base when Hernandez plays elsewhere.
In all fairness, the preseason is young and all three of the aforementioned players have only participated in four games total so there is no telling how things will shake out, but the strides that Munoz has taken at least to this point in exhibition games has put the utility player back on the map. We still have a few weeks on the slate left to see where everything shakes out, but as it stands now, Munoz is making one hell of a case to be back on the roster.